Tucson Hiking

Tucson hiking is something we love, and absolutely recommend! Just a hop, skip and a jump from the city, access all sorts of trails for your skill level. We ourselves are more moderate hikers. Our daughter and her family are a little more advanced than we are. Our son and his family are somewhat in between.

After all - we're older than all of them! But we do okay...

So between us, our family, and some of our friends - we'll let you in on some great Tucson hiking trails you'd love!

Some are quite popular - but even so, well worth it! After all, that's why they're so popular. Some aren't so well known. Kind of off the beaten track, and hidden from those not familiar with the area.

We'll let you in on them though! After all, you're becoming an insider right here! Here's our recommendations...

Have your day pack ready. Bring sun-screen. Enough water to keep you hydrated is very important. Remember this Tucson hiking is the desert - with the dry air you'll need even more hydration! Even if you plan to go up in elevation.

Do you want a hat to protect you from the sun? Depending on the length of the hike, you may want to bring a nutritious snack. Be sure to carry out any trash - so a zip-lock bag for that will be handy.

Overall hiking advice is remember your common sense. Preparation is essential. Know the expectations for the trail you're planning for. Even have a map. Be aware of local precautions. Know your weather report.

Listen to advisories! On some days the temperature disallows hiking - for sure! Be sure others know your hiking plans. Have a hiking partner.

Hiking is a rewarding and fun activity. Sadly, every year some unfortunate people make the news while hiking in Tucson. They get lost, fall from a cliff, suffer from heat stroke, etc. Some even lose their life. Don't let that be you!


Very Easy Tucson Hiking / Walking

These Tucson trails/walks are essentially level/and or short.

Take these if...

  • You're a hiking novice
  • You don't have a lot of time
  • You have young children along

Maybe it's a day where you want a relaxing walk. Or you just want to observe, and take in the scenery around you...

Agua Caliente

Agua Caliente Visitor CenterBe sure to stop in to the Visitor Center

Trails within this beautiful park are very easy. Stop in to the Visitor Center (closed Mon., Tues. & major holidays) for details. Most pathways are paved, and you'll find informational signs along the way.

Even more about Agua Caliente Park - get our FREE E-book: 7 Things to do in Tucson That are "Under the Radar!" - Click Here>

Walk Historic Downtown

The area surrounding downtown is the birthplace of the city of Tucson. So much history is still entwined with the modern-day buildings.

Historic Elysian Grove

Native Americans have had settlements in the area, particularly along the Santa Cruz River. People have lived there for over 4000 years.

A missionary, Italian Jesuit Father Francisco Eusebio Kino, arrived in 1697. He was already well-traveled through Mexico and Baja California. He established quite a few missions. This one in Tucson is well-known: San Xavier del Bac. [Read more>]

Under occupation by Spain, downtown Tucson was a Presidio housing Spanish soldiers. Eventually it became a Mexican Territory. In 1853 the Gadsden Purchase brought Arizona lands into the U.S. as an American Territory. Tucson became the Territorial capital for the next 10 years. The railroad came through in 1880. The University of Arizona was first established in 1885.

Many historical buildings, ruins and garden areas are still seen in downtown Tucson. Hiking can be customized with a self-guided walking tour. You can flex it according to your needs. Download the tour brochure, which details history and where to find it: Click Here

Siphon Trail

Siphon Trail in Tucson Mountain ParkHiking the Siphon Trail in Tucson Mountain Park

A very easy trail! This could be an introduction to hiking in the desert. We hiked this with our granddaughters a number of years ago. They wanted to begin doing some Tucson area hiking. They had fun! It was a quick and easy route for sure!

It's a quite scenic drive to get there. Going through Gates Pass. Take the W. Speedway Blvd. Exit (#257) off the I-10 Freeway. Continue West, it becomes Gates Pass Rd. It's twisty and narrow as it goes into the Pass. Once over the pass, it goes steeply downhill.

As it curves to the right note the parking area on the left. This is the Yetman trail-head. There are a few dips and twisty turns in the road as it descends.

The next parking area (R) is the Cheops trail-head. Next (R) parking is Rattlesnake trail-head. Pass another Right-side parking area. Then a little further, the next (R) parking is the Siphon trail-head.

This Tucson hiking trail is short, only 0.3 miles long. What's nice is you can turn it into a loop. After starting out, shortly it crosses over another trail - Gates Pass Trail. Continue straight, the Siphon will go on further. Eventually it curves to the left and ends onto the Orcut Trail.

Turn left onto the Orcut. Follow that until you again cross over the Gates Pass Trail. There you can make a left until you shortly reach the Siphon. Make a right to reach the parking area.

You're in Tucson Mountain Park. Not far from Old Tucson and the Desert Museum.

Bowen Trail

You'll get a mild increase in elevation as you travel this. It's a nice hike with a little surprise along the way!

Situated in Tucson Mountain Park, take Starr Pass Blvd. Exit off I-10, going West. After passing S. Tohono Ridge Pl., the trail-head will be a little further on the left.

But there's no place to park right there. Keep driving along to the resort - a little further on the right. There you'll find a parking garage. Elect to valet instead if you desire!

Walk back to the trail-head (you'll pass the Lorraine Lee Trail) to begin. About 1/3 of a mile in, the Lorraine Lee Trail intersects on the right.

Continue toward the left to stay on the Bowen Trail. After 0.8 miles, you'll reach a "T" where the trail ends, by merging into the Yetman Trail. Go toward the left about another  0.4 miles and you'll reach the remains of the Bowen stone cabin.

Have a nice little rest break here. Explore the ruins before heading back the way you came. A little history of the cabin involves some early Tucson history. It's an interesting story. More Here>


Moderate Tucson Hiking Trails

Accomplished with a little effort. Some start out easy and are a little more difficult at the end. Some are essentially not too difficult, but are not for a couch potato!

Many can take most of a day. Some take about half a day. All are definitely recommended for the scenery and/or unique areas!

Lorraine Lee Trail

A nice loop finishing up on the Bowen Trail, so no back-tracking needed. The elevation only climbs 400 ft., but with some steep upgrades.

Find it and park, just as you do with the Bowen Trail. Named for a community activist, with an alternate name of The Hidden Canyon Trail. The entire route is about 2 miles. It has bracing views of the Tucson mountains, and down into canyon areas.

This Tucson hiking trail sign speaks about the woman it's named for, Lorraine Lee. A victim of throat cancer. But while alive she had many valuable community contributions working for Chicanos por la Causa. She also loved the Sonoran Desert. The trail is a fitting tribute.

Highly recommended for a great partial day hike!

Bear Canyon Seven Falls Trail

Accessed in Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. This is the first Tucson hiking trail we traversed in the area after moving here. It's fabulous! Most of the way is very level. It only takes a higher elevation change near the end - with switchbacks.

Overall, it's a longer trail, with rocky areas and stream crossings to navigate. So it's classified as moderate. You can use the Bear Canyon tram to access the trail-head ($10/$5-kids: 9a to 4:30p). That makes it a tad easier: a 2 mile ride from parking! We did that! Then the trail is about 2-1/2 miles to the falls. But it seems the tram route has changed since we did it.

If you don't take the tram, be sure to get a map at the Visitor Center. That helps to find your way accurately to the trail-head. It can be confusing.

The trail follows along a creek (often flowing in winter months from snow-melt). You'll cross it a number of times. In the summer Monsoon season, be wary of the possibility of flash flooding.

The final reward is the falls. As the water tumbles down the rocky hillside, it forms several pools. They become ideal swimming holes during the summer! Take a pleasant rest before you return back to the Visitor Center.

Take Orange Grove Rd. exit off the I-10 Freeway (#250), turn East. Follow it continuously. At its end exit right onto Skyline Drive, then Sunrise Drive as you enter the Catalina Mountain foothills. Finally it ends at Sabino Canyon Rd. Make a left and just to your right is the Sabino Canyon Entrance. A $5 parking fee is charged at this very popular Recreation Site.


Hearty Tucson Hiking Effort!

Tucson hiking for well-experienced hikers, perhaps even those familiar with rock climbing. Also for those who are quite fit & willing to give it a go!

Safford Peak

The Northern end of the Tucson Mountains has a distinctive peak, locally nicknamed "Sombrero Peak." Accessed from Sanctuary Cove, there are a few trails to choose for starting out. Parking is available at Sanctuary Cove. Download our FREE E-book to get all the background on this wonderful area: Click Here

The last part of the trail is particularly steep. Areas nearing the top are not really established trails, you almost choose your own way. Try to pick out areas where "others have gone before!" In this way it preserves the vegetation and avoids erosion. The views are spectacular at the summit!

To start out, head toward the chapel. Trails begin behind it. Then make your way on trails that basically head West, and jog a bit North. You'll then find a larger trail that goes Southward. Then into another large trail that begins its gentle uphill climb, going towards the peak.

You'll end up in a saddle area below Safford Peak with an adjacent peak behind you. Now you'll really start an uphill trek at the peak's base. It rounds to the South until you are on the West side of the peak. Then you head straight up a slope to the top. Then it's essentially like rock climbing.

This must be done with definite caution. Our daughter did this one time. It was a bit of a harrowing experience! She was proud she accomplished it, but she's not anxious to do it again!